Massachusetts Behavioral Health Providers to Receive Nearly $1 Million to Advance Health IT Capabilities

April 9, 2015
Source: 
Massachusetts eHealth Institute

Technology Investments Aim to Improve Patient Care and Reduce Cost;
S
econd Round Launched to Engage Additional Providers Statewide

WESTBOROUGH, MA – April 9, 2015 – MeHI, the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech, has announced the first round of grantees from the eQuality Incentive Program (eQIP) for behavioral health providers located across the Commonwealth. MeHI has awarded grants to 18 non-profits across the Commonwealth, which will total nearly $1 million if the awardees reach each of the program milestones. The funds will help these Massachusetts practices invest in innovative health information technologies, or health IT, to improve patient care and reduce healthcare costs, while ensuring appropriate privacy and security of behavioral health patient data.

The 18 Massachusetts behavioral healthcare organizations provide direct care to patients managing mental health or substance abuse issues. These organizations serve many of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable individuals, many of whom receive costly services from multiple providers across the care spectrum. By using health IT, such as electronic health records and health information exchange, behavioral health providers can better communicate with other providers treating these individuals, providing improved care management.

“The behavioral health organizations the Commonwealth is investing in with this grant program have chosen to lead the way in using technology to help provide integrated, high quality care to some of our most vulnerable residents,” stated Laurance Stuntz, Director of MeHI. ”We are excited to support these organizations and their communities through this grant program, learn from them and help develop best practices that can be applied to help behavioral health providers across the Commonwealth.”

The selected behavioral health provider organizations will receive payments upon reaching select milestones that demonstrate increasingly advanced use of health IT systems, totaling up to $973,500 to the 18 providers.  Amounts each organization receives will vary depending on the size of the organization and their attainment of key milestones, with individual milestones ranging from $8,250 for small organizations to $20,625 for larger organizations, and maximum awards for each organization ranging from $33,000 to $82,500.

The following Massachusetts behavioral health organizations received grants under the eQIP program:

Central Mass.

  • L.U.K. Crisis Center, Inc. - Fitchburg - $33,000
  • Multicultural Wellness Center, Inc. - Worcester - $33,000
  • Spectrum Health Systems, Inc. - Worcester - $82,500
  • Region Total                         $148,500

Greater Boston

  • The Home for Little Wanderers - Boston   $66,000
  • MA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC) - Boston - $49,500
  • Riverside Community Care, Inc. - Dedham - $82,500
  • South Shore Mental Health Center, Inc. - Quincy  $66,000
  • The Edinburg Center - Lexington - $49,500
  • Region Total                       $313,500

Merrimack Valley                           

  • Lowell House, Inc. - Lowell - $33,000
  • Mental Health Assoc. of Greater Lowell, Inc. - Lowell - $33,000
  • Region Total                       $66,000

Pioneer Valley

  • Behavioral Health Network, Inc. - Springfield -$82,500
  • Clinical and Support Options, Inc. - Northampton - $49,500
  • Cutchins Programs for Children & Families - Northampton - $33,000
  • Gandara Mental Health Center, Inc. - W. Springfield -$66,000
  • NE Center for Youth and Families, Inc. - Easthampton - $49,500
  • Region Total                       $280,500

South Coast

  • High Point Treatment Center - New Bedford - $66,000
  • Child and Family Services, Inc. - New Bedford - $49,500
  • Stanley Street Treatment & Resources, Inc. - Fall River -$49,500
  • Region Total                       $165,000

All 18 Mass. Providers - Total                     $973,500

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, with the “expansion of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, it is estimated that one in six of the newly eligible Medicaid population will present indicators of behavioral health disorders,” which highlights the need for increased communication between behavioral health providers and other healthcare organizations. According to MeHI’s 2014 survey of Massachusetts providers, behavioral healthcare providers lag significantly behind other sectors in the adoption of health information technology, with an EHR adoption rate of approximately 55%.

“We are dedicated to ensuring the state’s most vulnerable residents receive the quality of care they deserve,” said the Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Marylou Sudders. “This funding allows healthcare organizations to upgrade health information technology systems that are central to increasing patient access to appropriate behavioral health treatment in a timely and efficient manner.”

MeHI has also recently released the second round of eQIP grants for the behavioral health sector. In this new funding round, MeHI has expanded the eligibility criteria to engage smaller practices and to include ‘for-profit’ organizations. For a downloadable PDF version of the request for proposals, visit the MeHI procurement site athttp://mehi.masstech.org/funding/apply-grant-funding.

The eQIP grants are funded via key investments made by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through Chapter 224, the 2012 healthcare cost containment law.

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Included below are quotes from the behavioral health organizations from across Massachusetts that received grants:

Central Mass.

"LUK, Inc. is grateful and delighted to receive support from the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech’s eQuality Incentive Program," states Richard A. Hooks Wayman, CEO, LUK, Inc.This funding will allow us to implement an electronic health record system and improve the quality of our behavioral health services to underserved and low-income residents of Worcester County. LUK Inc. is a community-based nonprofit organization that offers quality support services, assessment and treatment to children, youth, and adults with mental health and substance use disorders. The majority of our clients are low-income households that have barriers to accessing health care services. LUK, Inc. sincerely appreciates this financial award and looks forward to our partnership with the Massachusetts eHealth Institute.”

“We feel that this grant will allow us to invest in a system that enables us to fully engage in our client’s wellbeing. We currently need help in achieving that goal so we are extremely excited to be chosen to receive this award.  Engaging additional providers like behavioral health providers is an important step in making sure all health care providers are involved in coordinating client care,” added Elvis Lopez, COO & CFO, Multicultural Wellness Center, Inc.

“We are pleased to participate in this grant from our partners at MeHI,” said Chuck Faris, President and CEO of Spectrum Health Systems, Inc. “As a leader in behavioral health care managing increased demand for services in the midst of an opioid epidemic, intercommunication with other providers and streamlined management of care is mission critical for Spectrum.”

Greater Boston

“Many of the children we work with at The Home have significant and complex behavioral healthcare needs. The eHealth eQuality Incentive Program grant will help us to further develop The Home’s Electronic Health Record, allowing for better tracking of services delivered and progress made. By enabling electronic messaging, patient portal and information exchange capabilities, our staff will facilitate more efficient, effective, and secure client care,” said Michael Pearis, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, The Home for Little Wanderers.

“We are grateful for MeHI’s grant to help MSPCC make an important investment in electronic health records,” says Mary McGeown, President and Chief Executive Officer of MSPCC. “We know it will benefit patients to have health information accessible to multiple providers.”

“South Shore Mental Health is excited to partner with MeHI to provide enhanced integrated care for our clients,” states Stephen Wojcik, Executive Vice President at South Shore Mental Health. “Throughout the South Shore and Southeast Massachusetts, we provide services for many individuals, families and children with complex medical and behavioral health needs. As a member of a client’s care team, we are committed to strengthening interoperability through utilization of the Massachusetts Health Information Highway and our certified health record. The support of the eQuality Incentive Program will provide resources and expertise to achieve these objectives.”

“The Edinburg Center is  very pleased to receive this MeHI grant because it will facilitate a more rapid implementation of our  Electronic Health Record while  meeting our objective of improving the quality of client care in the most cost-effective manner,” comments Bill Riley, IT Director, The Edinburg Center.

Merrimack Valley

"The eQuality Incentive Program provides us with the structure, background and support to transition from a traditional paper client record to a modern Electronic Health Record (EHR),” says William H. Garr, CHE, Chief Executive Officer, Lowell House, Inc. “An EHR provides community agencies like Lowell House with an opportunity to integrate our client care internally among programs and providers, and externally with local and regional healthcare organizations. Our conversion to an EHR will allow us to provide a more seamless, cost-effective system of care that addresses the often complex issues of substance abuse, addictions and mental health disorders to our clients."

“We are a small human services organization and the costs for the adoption of an EHR - software, hardware upgrades, and staffing - are staggering!,” states Dan Nakamoto, Executive Director, Mental Health Association of Greater Lowell, Inc. “While the mandate is clear that an EHR will be needed to do business in the future, government has largely supported medical health organizations. The MeHI grant is critical support for our efforts to adopt an electronic health record. We are very grateful to MeHI for its eQuality Incentive Program.”

Pioneer Valley

“Behavioral Health Network, Inc. is excited that MeHI has chosen to invest in the work we do to provide the highest quality services to individuals and families throughout the Pioneer Valley. The people we serve are dealing with increasingly complex health issues in communities that have increasingly fewer resources to support their needs. Recognizing that providing behavioral health services in isolation does not adequately support the growth and recovery of our clients, BHN has been a regional leader in driving the integration of medical and behavioral health services. We have partnered with primary care and local health centers throughout the region to provide co-located service delivery including screening, direct care, care management, and mental health and substance use consultation. The resources provided by the eQIP grant will support our efforts to move beyond the first steps of co-location to achieve true integration with our health care partners and leverage the transformative power of integrated clinical care, with the ultimate goal of reducing costs while supporting the whole health of our clients,” states David LaPlatney, EHR Project Manager, Behavioral Health Network.

“The MeHI grant will enable us to communicate with pharmacies and other providers and is critical to an integrated Electronic Health Record System that supports small to midsize organizations that would not be possible otherwise,” said Jay Indik, Executive Director, Cutchins Programs for Children and Families.

“The Gandara Center is very excited to have the opportunity to participate and benefit from the eQuality Incentive Program grant for behavioral health providers,” stated Natalie Hall, EMR Manager at The Gandara Center. “We believe that participation in this grant will allow us to invest in health IT developments and improvements that will result in improved client care through better communication and integration of services through all levels of the client’s care. Our mutual goals of client access to a client portal and integrated care by facilitated communication of information through the Mass HIway will be more easily and better attained with this grant’s award. As a minority organization serving a large, primarily Hispanic/Latino population, the better communication and integration of services we will achieve through the assistance of this grant, will greatly benefit those clients that have communication issues and a very large incidence of co-morbid behavioral health and medical conditions.”

“This grant helps make it possible to fulfill a lifelong organizational goal. The implementation of our Electronic Health Record will help us fulfill our mission to provide the best care possible to our very vulnerable population,” states Paul Rilla, Executive Director, The Northeast Center for Youth and Families.

South Coast

“The Health IT monies will help High Point Treatment Center to not only improve client access to care but enable us to share information more easily and faster with a client’s other providers,” notes High Point Treatment Center President and CEO Daniel Mumbauer. “Investing in technology like Health IT will ultimately help us also to reduce overall healthcare costs.”

"Child & Family Services is excited about the opportunities this grant will provide," said Anne Sampaio, Executive Director of Child & Family Services. "When medical and behavioral health providers are able to share information and coordinate care, families will benefit greatly. Technology advances enabled by this grant will provide easier, more streamlined process for providers with the added benefit of moving more towards a paperless system."

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MEDIA CONTACT:  

Brian Noyes, MassTech/MeHI

(508) 870-0312 X: 293

noyes@masstech.org